GHC partners to open new outdoor classroom at Anna K. Davie Elementary School

GHC Professor of Biology Mark Knauss (from left), Anna K. Davie Elementary School Principal Parke Wilkinson, and GHC Dean of Natural Sciences and Physical Education Greg Ford cut the ribbon for the new outdoor classroom at the Anna K. Davie Elementary School surrounded by students from teacher John Millard’s class. (Contributed photo)

Anna K. Davie Elementary School’s resident garden experts, the fourth- through sixth-grade special education students, will be leading the way with the school’s new greenhouse and outdoor classroom.

“They are sending me and another teacher to Georgia Highlands College this summer to learn more about using the greenhouse and how to teach the kids to use the greenhouse,” said John Millard, special education teacher.

Millard’s class already helped put the greenhouse together and have plans to begin fixing shelves and placing bedding areas after they return to school in January.

Their expertise comes from tending their plot in a nearby community garden.

Millard bought a plot at the South Rome Community Garden for his students in August, he said.

“When I was transferred to Anna K. Davie, I made my first visit to the school, and I saw the garden,” said Millard. “I thought it was a great opportunity for my students to see where food comes from.”

As soon as he bought the plot, he went to Home Depot to purchase fall plants.

“I liked the idea that we could walk from the school to the plot to work on it,” he said. “I love the fact that the community sees my kids participating in something like that and that they really want to be part of the neighborhood.”

He is looking forward to seeing his kids teach others how to plant as well, he said.

“They’ve really taken responsibility with it and I think they are going to really enjoy the greenhouse when it gets going,” he said.

The greenhouse is part of a partnership between Anna K. Davie, Georgia Highlands College and the South Rome Redevelopment Corp. Through a grant, Georgia Highlands officials were able to donate the greenhouse to the school.

Principal Parke Wilkinson has major plans for the greenhouse, he said.

“I hope that each grade level will have their own shelf they can tend,” said Wilkinson. “This is going to be a wonderful way to teach earth science and to teach the kids the patience required to nurture and watch plants grow.”

Wilkinson also hopes to use the bounty from the greenhouse as fundraising opportunities for the school and ways to connect with the community, he said.

“Really the possibilities are endless,” he said. “Not a lot of elementary schools have access to something like this and it will be exciting to see what we can do with it.”